SINGAPORE - Nine new Nominated Members of Parliament (NMPs) have been selected to represent the views of various segments of Singapore society in Parliament.
- Labour unionist Arasu Duraisamy
- Sakae Holdings chairman Douglas Foo Peow Yong
- Executive director of the Singapore Chinese Orchestra Ho Wee San
- Communication and technology professor Lim Sun Sun
- Founder of inter-religious non-profit group Roses of Peace Abbas Ali Mohamed Irshad
- Corporate social responsibility consultant Anthea Ong Lay Theng
- President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Singapore Irene Quay Siew Ching
- Labour economist and associate professor Walter Edgar Theseira
- Paralympian swimmer Yip Pin Xiu
All nine are new to the role, and all the current NMPs, whose terms end on Friday (Sept 21), have stepped down.
Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin, who chaired the Special Select Committee which chose the NMPs, said in a statement on Monday (Sept 17) that these nine nominees met all the constitutional criteria and requirements.
"We are also confident that these passionate and committed individuals will ably represent the views within and across their communities, thus expanding and deepening perspectives shared at parliamentary debates," he added.
Leader of the House Grace Fu said in the statement that these nine NMPs come with good credentials in their respective fields, and have keen interest in a broad range of issues.
"As a group, they add to the diversity of expertise and experience in the House. Among them, we will have a pharmacist, a para-athlete, a leader of the traditional arts sector and an activist for inter-religious harmony."
She noted that two of the NMPs - Ms Yip, 26, and Mr Abbas, 29 - are below the age of 30, and expressed confidence that they "will enrich debate by bringing the voices of the youth to the House".
The NMP scheme, introduced in 1990, is meant to provide non-partisan views in Parliament.
There can be up to nine NMPs in each term, which lasts 2½ years.
SIM Global Education associate lecturer Felix Tan said the new batch of NMPs have big shoes to fill, as the current slate - which includes social entrepreneur Kuik Shiao-Yin and theatre group artistic director Kok Heng Leun - has delivered many eloquent and passionate speeches in Parliament.
"So, one would expect that this new batch could raise the bar a little higher and produce similar passionate speeches that affect Singaporeans by and large," Dr Tan said.
"If one looks at the list, we can expect them to raise issues such as how the increased use of technology has affected Singaporeans, whether our country can do more to help those who are disadvantaged, entrepreneurship and Singapore's economy in the next few years."
The new NMPs are already gearing up for the challenge.
Mr Foo told The Straits Times he was excited to take on the new role at such an interesting time in Singapore's economy.
"I hope to use this platform to reach out to businesses and spread the message about how important it is for them to take a hard look at their business models and use digital technology to innovate and prepare themselves for the future economy," he said.
Ms Ong, meanwhile, plans to speak up on social inclusion, mental health and volunteerism, which she sees as issues that are inter-linked.
"I see volunteerism as a way to address both the issues of social inclusion and mental health, not merely as an act of altruism," she said.
"Volunteering can help dispel prejudices, challenge stereotypes and create acceptance of diversity. Volunteering helps people who donate their time feel more socially connected, thus warding off loneliness and depression."
Professor Lim said she will focus on issues related to the impact of digital technology on society, media literacy and challenges in education that have arisen as a result of digital technology.
The Special Select Committee had invited the public and certain groups to submit names for consideration in June.
By the time submissions were closed a month later, the committee received 48 proposal forms.
The committee said in its statement that, as most of the names proposed were of high quality, this made the selection of the nine final candidates a challenge.
When assessing each individual, the committee said it took into account the criteria set out in the Constitution, which is that NMPs should be "persons who have rendered distinguished public service, or who have brought honour to the Republic, or who have distinguished themselves in the field of arts and letters, culture, the sciences, business, industry, the professions, social or community service or the labour movement".
The Constitution also states that NMPs should "be able to reflect as wide a range of independent and non-partisan views as possible".
In addition, the committee said it also considered whether the individuals proposed had a record of significant achievement demonstrating a range of experience, skills and competencies, understood the current issues and challenges facing Singapore, had the ability to make effective and significant contributions to debates in Parliament, and were willing and able to commit the time necessary to participate in parliamentary proceedings.